Catherine G. Coleman


Born December 14, 1960, in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to glass artist Josh Simpson. She enjoys flying, scuba diving, sports, music. As an undergraduate, she competed in intercollegiate athletics on MIT’s crew team. Her mother, Ann L. Doty, resides in Dayton, Ohio. Her father’s family resides in Vancouver, Washington.


Graduated from W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, Virginia, in 1978; received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, and a doctorate in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1991.


Coleman was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force in 1983 and began graduate work at the University of Massachusetts. Her research focused on polymer synthesis using the olefin metathesis reaction, and polymer surface modification. In 1988, Coleman entered active duty and was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As a research chemist at the Materials Directorate of the Wright Laboratory, she synthesized model compounds for optical applications such as advanced computers and data storage. Coleman also acted as a surface analysis consultant for the Long Duration Exposure Facility (launched from STS 41-C in 1984 and retrieved during STS-32 in 1990). In addition to assigned duties, Coleman was a volunteer test subject for the centrifuge program at the Crew Systems Directorate of the Armstrong Aeromedical Laboratory. She set several endurance and tolerance records during her participation in physiological and new equipment studies.


Coleman was selected by NASA in March 1992 and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. Initially assigned to the Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch and detailed to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, Coleman subsequently served as the special assistant to the Center Director, Johnson Space Center. She served in the Astronaut Office Payloads and Habitability Branch, working with experiment designers to insure that payloads can be operated successfully in the microgravity environment of low earth orbit. As the lead astronaut for long term habitability issues, she led the effort to label the Russian segments of the International Space Station in English and also tracked issues such as acoustics and living accommodations aboard the station. She also served as a CAPCOM in mission control for both the space shuttle and space station for a number of years. Subsequently, she was the astronaut office lead on the tile repair team for NASA’s Return to Flight after the Columbia accident. Currently, Coleman is the Chief of Robotics for the Astronaut Office, tasked with overseeing astronaut robotics training and the integration of crew interfaces into new robotics systems. A veteran of two space missions, Coleman has logged over 500 hours in space. She was a mission specialist on STS-73, trained as a backup mission specialist for an injured crew member on STS-83, and was lead mission specialist on STS-93. Coleman is in dedicated training for long duration flight on the International Space Station and is currently assigned as a back-up Expedition-19 crew member.


STS-73 Columbia (October 20 to November 5, 1995) was the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module. In completing her first space flight, Coleman orbited the Earth 256 times, traveled over 6 million miles, and logged a total of 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space.

STS -93 Columbia (July 22-27, 1999) was a 5-day mission during which Coleman was the lead mission specialist for the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Designed to conduct comprehensive studies of the universe, the telescope will enable scientists to study exotic phenomena such as exploding stars, quasars, and black holes. Mission duration was 118 hours and 50 minutes.



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